Your Friday Briefing: Men Flee Russian Conscription

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One day after President Vladimir Putin announced a plan to bring 300,000 civilians into military service, thousands of Russians received draft papers and boarded buses to training sites. Many others left the country in a rush, paying rising prices to catch flights to Armenia, Georgia, Montenegro and Turkey, some of the countries that allow Russians to enter without visas.

Russian officials said the call-up would be limited to people with combat experience. But one journalist said her husband, a father of five with no military experience, had been summoned.

Our reporter spoke to a 23-year-old who bought a plane ticket to Istanbul, wrapped up his business and kissed his crying mother goodbye — all within about 12 hours of Putin’s announcement. He said he has no idea when he will return. “I was sitting and thinking about what I could die for, and I didn’t see any reason to die for the country,” he said. Here are live updates.

Surveillance: The Times obtained nearly 160,000 files from Russia’s powerful internet regulator, which the government uses to find opponents and squash dissent. Compared with China, much of the work of Russian censors is done manually, but what Moscow lacks in sophistication, it has made up for in determination.


Japan announced yesterday that it had intervened to prop up the value of the yen for the first time in 24 years, in an effort to stop the currency’s continuing slide against the dollar.

Yesterday, the yen passed 145 to the dollar after the U.S. Federal Reserve’s announcement on Wednesday that it would raise its policy rate by an additional three-quarters of a percentage point. The yen has lost over 20 percent of its value against the dollar over the past year, and it has been the worst performing currency among major developed economies this year.

Context: The yen’s plunge has largely been caused by Japan’s determination to keep interest rates low. The government’s intervention followed an announcement by the Bank of Japan that it would stick fast to its longstanding ultralow interest rate policy — even as most other countries have begun to follow the U.S. Federal Reserve’s increases.

History: For years, a weak yen was widely seen as a boon for its export-driven economy, making Japanese products cheaper and more attractive for consumers abroad.

Elsewhere: The Bank of England raised its key interest rate by half a point to 2.25 percent yesterday, the highest level since 2008. It is the latest effort to tame high inflation.


For more than 15 years, a court in a military camp in Cambodia has been working to prosecute the crimes of the Khmer Rouge regime, which caused the deaths of an estimated 1.7 million Cambodians in the late 1970s.

In its final hearing yesterday, it rejected an appeal by Khieu Samphan, 91, the fanatical communist movement’s last surviving leader, upholding his conviction and life sentence for genocide and other crimes.

Many victims think the United Nations-backed tribunal, which spent over $330 million, was a hollow exercise conducted far too long after the atrocities were committed. Only three people were convicted, and many of the Khmer Rouge’s senior figures — including its notorious top leader, Pol Pot — were long dead by the time the court was created.

Background: From 1975 to 1979, the Khmer Rouge caused the deaths of nearly a quarter of the population from execution, torture, starvation and untreated disease as it sought to abolish modernity and create an agrarian utopia.

Fake news is rising in India, with a surge of disinformation after the rise of Narendra Modi, the Hindu nationalist prime minister. Alt News, an independent website, has emerged as a leading debunker of misinformation, such as stories about child-kidnapping gangs and Muslims spreading Covid.

But highlighting hate speech against minority groups has put it on a collision course with Modi’s government: A founder was recently arrested and is accused of spreading communal unrest.

Italy’s national election is on Sunday. Giorgia Meloni, the hard-right politician who is the front-runner to become the country’s next prime minister, has a surprising personal manifesto.

Meloni loves “The Lord of the Rings” and sees the fantasy adventure series, written by J.R.R. Tolkien, as something of a sacred text. As a youth activist in the post-Fascist Italian Social Movement, she used to dress up as a hobbit.

That might seem like a youthful infatuation. But in Italy, “The Lord of the Rings” has informed generations of post-Fascist youth. They have looked to Tolkien’s traditionalist mythic age for symbols, heroes and creation myths free of Fascist taboos, from which they could reconstruct a hard-right identity.

Meloni, 45, said that she had learned from dwarves, elves and hobbits the “value of specificity” with “each indispensable for the fact of being particular.” She extrapolated that as a lesson about protecting Europe’s sovereign nations and unique identities.

“I think that Tolkien could say better than us what conservatives believe in,” Meloni said. “I don’t consider ‘The Lord of the Rings’ fantasy.”



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